War of the Worlds: Student Finance versus Life

Richard Green

Its a worrying time for current and prospective students. Figures from the Prudential, show that a third of UK university students have considered abandoning their studies due
to the financial strain they have encountered. It is not surprising that many prospective students are finding the need to seriously think through the merits of going to university. With the increase in course fees, alongside decreases in government financial support, the current crop of graduates can expect huge debts (currently averaging over 13,000) when they enter the employment market, which they hope will reward them with a highly paid job.

However, as more students get pushed on to the higher education production line and undertake degrees, the once elitist qualification becomes devalued. Suddenly employers find themselves surrounded by graduates of ambiguous quality. Prestigious highly-paid careers are rare these days and graduates find themselves increasingly under pressure to jump through a number of hoops, with many interviews relying on an individuals ability to sell himself, rather than the basis of the academic work.

Students need to take responsibility for their own finances, while the government seeks our recognition of its actions (educating the unemployed is good for the books and votes), without the state taking on responsibility (its an investment in your own future).

Too many want to bury their heads in the sand and wait for a lottery win to make it all better. With over one trillion pounds of personal debt in the UK, students need to realise that the, “it could be you!” they pray for, is actually an “it is you in debt” with trapped wind more likely than wind-fall.

Part of the problem is hopeful expectation (alias denial), part is a fear of controlling your own personal finances (alias apathy), and part is a lack of knowledge (alias ignorance). The first one is difficult, and needs to be overcome by the individual. The other two however can both be overcome by looking for help. Sources of information need to be made available, actively promoted and sought out by consumers.

Its not like the information isnt there there are plenty of financial product comparison sites loaded with information (and pictures): http://www.moneynet.co.uk/ for a start, or http://www.moneysavingexpert.com. The Financial Services Authority has its own finance help information for consumers http://www.fsa.gov.uk/consumer/index.html.

As the saying goes, “Seek and you shall find”. It may be a hard lesson, but it is one that we must all currently embrace.

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About the Author

Richard works in Edinburgh for a media company, occasionally writing for the personal finance blog Cashzilla ( http://cashzilla.blogspot.com/ ), and drinking too much coffee.